We’re just under a month away from the Utah Jazz season opener. Jazz players have started making their arrivals back in Salt Lake City prior to the beginning of camp which starts a week from today. Looking forward to this upcoming season, there is no question that is is going to be very different than the past decade or so. All signs are pointing to the Jazz winning a lot of games. Per Vegas Insider, their current over/under for wins for the 2022-23 season is set at 26.5 which is bottom five in the NBA. The Jazz went from a perennial 50-win team to a bottom feeder with incredible speed. Despite the Jazz most likely not winning a lot of games this season, there’s still plenty to look forward to.
New Young Talent
The Jazz tried to make a run at a championship for the past few years. They made a pretty dang good run, but just couldn’t pull it off. Instead of continuing to beat up the dead horse, they swapped the dead horse out for a shiny new young pretty pony. This pony has the looks of Collin Sexton, Jarred Vanderbilt, Ochai Agbaji, Lauri Markkanen; all guys in their early twenties and all possessing some great basketball talent. Lauri Markkanen is fresh off an incredible Eurobasket performance, where he was one of the most electrifying players in the entire tournament.
He trailed only Giannis Antetokounmpo in points per game throughout the tournament, at a scoring 28 points per outing. He did so shooting 54/40/90 splits, and carried Finland to their first ever EuroBasket Quarterfinal appearance. Of all the different players the Jazz acquired over the summer, I’m personally most excited to watch Lauri Markkanen.
Collin Sexton seems excited to be in Utah. He showed up to the University of Utah football game his first weekend in town, along with a few other players. Sexton is another guy that is just a fun player to watch play basketball. His effort, energy, and athleticism are definitely something to look forward to this season.
Simone Fontecchio is another interesting player to watch for this season. Like Markkanen, Fontecchio had his fair share of dominating play during the FIBA Eurobasket. Fontecchio kind of gives off some Joe Ingles vibes. Smart, gritty, international player thats making his NBA debut in his late twenties after some professional experience in Europe. It worked out pretty good for Joe Ingles, so we’ll see if Fontecchio can follow in Joe’s footsteps in Utah.
Assuming he isn’t traded and actually stays in Utah.. Jordan Clarkson is going to be so much fun this season. I really hope he sticks around, because the flamethrower would be absolutely unleashed. His green light is going to the the greenest that we possibly have ever seen. Averaging 30 points per game, an All-Star bid, a couple 50-point performances, what is the ceiling? Obviously the Jazz aren’t planning on winning a lot of games and contending for a playoff spot, so JC can just be JC alllllllll season long, with no limits.
Victor Wembanyama Highlights
As a team that is potentially tanking this season, all Jazz fans need to be familiar with Victor Wembanyama. Most, if not all, of NBA fans in general are probably very familiar with him, as he is being touted as the best NBA prospect since LeBron James. It seems like every day there is a new clip coming out of him playing that is just absolutely absurd. This guy is a freak.
If the Jazz are tanking this year, it’s because of him. The Jazz front office have stock piled draft picks and young assets, which opens the possibility of them making a huge trade for the #1 pick in next year’s draft even if they don’t land it in the lottery. Seems like a good idea, but then again most teams in the league are probably thinking the same thing. This guy is generational, and Jazz fans are definitely in the mix at possibly landing him next summer.
Embracing the Tank
In my eyes, tanking isn’t very fun. Not trying to win every game you play just feels really lame and weird to me. Without saying “we’re tanking” the Jazz are definitely showing all signs of tanking this season, and that’s okay. If you think about it, it really doesn’t make sense to basically start a team over from scratch with a new coach, new players, new (AWFUL) jerseys, and expect them to compete for anything. Even if the goal was to make the playoffs, what’s the point? As mentioned above, the Jazz have a chance to land a generational player in next year’s draft (as well as some other good players) and build around him. Danny Ainge made it clear that the Jazz are in rebuild mode, and that their focus is building a championship team for the future. That is going to take some time, and unfortunately, lots of losses. With each loss though, just imagine having a taller Rudy Gobert that can dribble and shoot like Kevin Durant.. makes it a little easier.
Once a Jazz man, Always a Jazz man
I know lots of fans won’t agree with this one, but I’m really excited to watch former Jazz guys on their new teams this year. It’s interesting that all of them are on teams that have a pretty decent chance at being good contending teams this upcoming season.
Rudy in Minnesota, Don in Cleveland, Royce in Brooklyn, Joe in Milwaukee. Really any of those teams could emerge as favorites at some point in the season depending on how things go. The Jazz invested a lot into those players while they were here, and they created some awesome memories in Jazz uniforms. Might not be for everyone, but seeing them succeed in new places is definitely something I’m looking forward to.